Civil Claims for Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is one of the most egregious acts a person can be put through, and as such, the abuser should always be held accountable. It is fairly common for the abuser to face criminal charges, but many victims either don’t know that they are able or are hesitant to pursue civil action against their abuser. 

Below, we go into further detail about the differences between criminal charges and a civil claim, and the reasons why you should consider taking legal action against your abuser during this tumultuous time in your life. 

The Difference Between Criminal Court and Civil Court

Abusers are often prosecuted in criminal court. Here, law enforcement will build a case against the abuser that will need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the jury to issue a guilty verdict. 

Civil litigation is completely different from criminal court, however. A sexual abuse lawyer in New York City says, “In civil court, the attorney representing the victim of abuse will be responsible for proving the abuse and its impact on the victim’s life, based on a preponderance of the evidence.” This means that the evidence presented demonstrates that the abuser is, in fact, responsible for the suffering of the victim. 

Furthermore, the consequences of a conviction in criminal court will typically consist of fines, prison or jail time, probation, community service, and the abuser will be required to register as a sex offender in their state. However, in civil court, the victim will seek compensation from their abuser so they can begin to move forward with their life.

Why You Should Sue

If you have been taken advantage of in this way, you might be able to file a civil claim of your own. Many abuse victims have reported feelings of apprehension at facing their abuser, but they also go on to say that once they have told their story in court, they feel empowered and ready to rebuild their lives. 

The compensation you could be awarded would allow you to cover the costs of your medical bills, lost income, the costs of mental health counseling, and provide repayment for things like your lost quality of life, the damage to your family relationships, your pain and suffering, and mental anguish. 

You can visit RAINN’s website for additional resources regarding civil claims for sexual abuse, help with your mental health, and other resources.